Driving back to the QC from Chicago last night, I invented a new game to keep me awake. It kept us amused for a good hour, on and off, and I heartily recommend it to anyone looking for reasons to stay awake while driving for long distances.
It’s simple: whenever you pass an exit sign for some town, imagine that’s the title of a movie, and describe the plot. A few examples from yesterday…
Rock Falls: a bunch of down-and-out middle-aged rockers work menial jobs by day and rock at night, in the dying midwestern town of (fictional) Rock Falls. Once an eighties one-hit wonder, their band is now on the long slow road to nowhere. That is, until a mysterious sexy woman, who turns out to be an old fan, suddenly moves into town and shakes things up. Imagine Spinal Tap meets Bull Durham meets Chocolat! (I’ve always loved this town name — so evocative, so full of imagery)
Sterling: a movie about some modern Texas cattle ranchers at the Sterling Ranch and their struggles to keep up with changing times. Immigration, competition from South American producers, fads and trends in diet and living, and other fascinating concerns of the American Cattleman are explored in numbing detail.
Sterling: a dreary and lonely silversmith discovers that a locket he creates is embued with magical powers that cause the wearer to fall madly in love with whoever’s picture is on the inside. Crazy things happen when a woman puts into the locket a photo of her beloved dog, Fifi.
Clinton: a biopic about Chelsea Clinton
Erie: a horror movie that takes place on Lake Erie, about a homicidal fisherman who goes around using booze and sex toys as bait for naughty teenagers who party on the shoreline, who he then catches in various fishing line traps and disembowels. Police suspect political motive as all of the murdered kids are Canadians cought on the American side of the lake…
Prophetstown: In Nevada, in the 1850s, there’s a small but growing mining town run rampant with con-men and outlaws, and five different preachers claim to be prophets sent by God to clean up the mess. As miracles occur around town in increasing numbers, it’s unclear whether all five are truly touched or whether they are faking events in a high stakes game of oneupsmanship. Eventually they have a five way shoot out and kill each other, leaving another character who predicted this would happen as the sole religious visionary in town. But one must wonder: did he orchestrate the five-way homicide/suicide all along?
Lyndon: a musical about LBJ, the Senate years.
Silly, I know, but fun!
It’s amazing how quickly you can create these imaginary worlds, and just riff on them as you roll down the road. As you bounce ideas back and forth about these preposterous movies, you can actually start to see them in your head. You start putting actors in the film — James Gandolfini as LBJ! — and the next thing you know, you’re home…
I’ve noticed this, too. It seems incredibly whiteysomething (that’s my new slang word for young white urban thirty/fortysomething) these days, and since the loss of Fey and Poehler, incredibly male. The highs of SNL have been higher in the last few years, with more memorable skits than I can recall happening in quite a while. They’ve even managed to string together a few episodes with more than one or two good skits (Jon Hamm, Paul Rudd).
But just like in the late 80s, a lot of the skits are starting to feel the same. It’s like they’re living in a bubble. It’s always been an NYC bubble. But now it feels like the Upright Citizens Brigade bubble.
But I will one-up the linked blog post (reblogged from kittykittybangbang) and say that what SNL needs are WRITERS of color. By this, I just mean non-white, having some perspectives from outside the bubble. (And Canadian does not count as a minority.) I think it’s circular — find writers that work well with your cast, and find castmembers that work well with your writing staff.
I’m guessing that the 30 Rock portrayal of the writers is a pretty good approximation, but I decided to see what Google could tell me. I started with the 2008 writers list, which I found here and here.
I then used IMDB, Google image search, Facebook public profiles, and other tools of creepy amateur intertron stalking to put together the following half-assed probably-wrong breakdown of the writers:
Doug Abeles - male whiteysomething James Anderson - male whiteysomething Alex Baze - male whiteysomething Jessica Conrad - female whiteysomething (suspected) Jim Downey - old male whiteysomething Steve Higgins - male whiteysomething Colin Jost - male whiteysomething Erik Kenward - male whiteysomething Rob Klein - male whiteysomething (suspected) John Lutz - male whiteysomething Seth Meyers - male whiteysomething John Mulaney - male whiteysomething Paula Pell - female whiteysomething Simon Rich - male whiteysomething Marika Sawyer - female ? Akiva Schaffer - male whiteysomething John Solomon - male whiteysomething Emily Spivey - female whiteysomething Kent Sublette - male whiteysomething Jorma Taccone - male whiteysomething Bryan Tucker - male whiteysomething
So, with the caveat that these results depend heavily on unreliable internet stalking, sometimes involving singular grainy images shot from moving helicopters, I was not able to find a single writer of color. I count 18 “verified” whiteysomethings, two suspected via itsy-bitsy thumbnails (creepy!), and one unknown because her Facebook avatar is an obese cat. Furthermore, of the 21, only four are women.
I expected male whiteysomethingness, but not quite this much of it. There’s as much diversity here as if you lined up all the boy bands side by side. Even a burger joint sells french fries, for chrissakes.
As a male whiteysomething, I am proud to say that we have not yet ceded control. As someone who’d like to see more than just my voice represented, however, I’m disappointed.
"The state of Georgia doesn’t require hunters under the age of 16 to be licensed, but it does require unlicensed minors to hunt with an adult. However, kids between the ages of 12 and 15 can legally hunt without supervision if they complete a hunter education course. And hey, if you’re short on time, you can take the class online."
This is the kind of shit you find when you start reading parenting blogs. This and stuff about celebrity parents.
Great trivia-loaded piece that includes all sorts of fascinating details about this collapsing juggernaut, from Nazi connections to the Lunar Rover to the birth of the UAW to a list of GM firsts to a quick breakdown of management and UAW failures over the years.
Benjy’s a usually-mustachioed DC acquaintance, a good friend to some good friends. He signed to Domino USA a year or two ago; they re-released his first album, but did no promo for it. Now it’s not the most badass Swedish psych metal world-cinema record of the year or anything, but it’s way underappreciated. I don’t think the cover, which involves a painting of a Rhett Butler type in a Peter Pan hat, did much to help.
Nor does Benjy’s low-key manner. Toot his own horn, or slap backs in the hipster bars around town, he does not. So he wiles away in obscurity writing damn good songs that don’t pander to the Indie of the Moment.
I think, or hope, that things are about to change.
Benjy has a new record coming out in February, and the cover does not involve any weird hats that bring to mind images of Renaissance Faires or spandexified dandies. Instead it’s got a beguiling black and white photo of Benjy on it, which I’m 99% sure was taken by my friend Bryan.
I am really really really digging this first track from the album. It has a languorous feel to it, like it’s in no rush to go anywhere, like it’s just happy to linger here by the door singing you some sloe jamz. There’s such great tension here, between the drowsy buzz of bass, the effervescent twinkling of piano flourishes, and Benjy’s melodic tenor, you can’t tell if it’s going to fade out or break away. Close your eyes and it’s hard not to imagine slick dudes in suits, side by side, kicking out choreographed dance moves. Lots of slow arm motions and synchronized twirls.
And when it does pick up at the two minute mark, it’s not like the Pixies cranking the loud switch, it’s more like when Otis Redding takes Try a Little Tenderness from soul ballad into earth-shaking torch song, like he’s so bursting with love he simply can’t contain it anymore.
Benjy isn’t Otis. That’s an unfair comparison. It’s like comparing Craig Finn to Bruce Springsteen - it misses the point. But it says something that listening to this song, that’s where my mind wanders.
And of course Benjy isn’t singing about love, but the kind of paranoia that has you hiding under the couch. He belts out R&B couplets about bomb-toting mailmen, talking animals, and water turning blood red.
The other two songs available from the preview page for Benjy’s new album Come Back To The Five and Dime, Bobby Dee Bobby Dee take different directions. “Big Business” sounds like Marc Bolan singing lead for an alt-country bar band, and the Kinksy “Pisstopher Chrisstopher” lumbers forth unafraid to drop you with a few dirty guitar roundhouses to the face.
Rumor has it that the album is a concept album about Bobby Driscoll, the Oscar-winning Disney child-actor who tumbled from grace into drug addiction, became an Andy Warhol scenester, and wound up a nameless thirty one year old body strewn among beer bottles and religious pamphlets in NYC’s Greenwich Village.
The Freedom Membership will only run you $14.95. If you pre-order his book on American values, you’ll get an autographed copy, a 1 year subscription to “Joe The Blogger” Newsletter, a chat with Joe on “Joe the Forum” and a kick in your fucking face from “Jesus The Christ.” (h/t Urlesque)
Why we shouldn’t give up on Jim Martin in Georgia: it’s all about getting out the vote. With some proper counting in Alaska, some luck in Minnesota, and some work in Georgia, we’ll be at 60 in no time.
Here’s what someone said about that ad: “I’d never seen anything like that ad. Putting pictures of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden next to the picture of a man who left three limbs on the battlefield — It’s worse than disgraceful. It’s reprehensible.” That was John McCain, a man who is now campaigning for Chambliss. Think about the hypocrisy of the Republicans and donate $20 now.